NORTHWICH were under no illusion as to the task awaiting them at Burnage given that over the years this fixture has produced some bruising encounters that have often left the players and spectators breathless.

This 26-19 defeat was no exception in a match were both sides were uncompromising in their approach.

With Matt Poste, Chris James and Mike Gough all missing Martin Poste needed to re-shuffle the side bringing Richard Hart and Fraser Dodd in for one of the biggest challenges of the season.

Burnage drew first blood with a try and as the first quarter came to a close they added another.

Blacks responded, spearheaded by man of the match Tom Clark, and Baldwin’s long pass sent Naylor in for a try.

Baldwin converted and added two penalties, but the Blacks conceded a penalty and a lack of concentration allowed Burnage to launch an attack for a converted try that gave the home side a 19-13 lead at the break.

A Baldwin penalty narrowed the gap, but entering the final 20 minutes Sam Naylor was shown a yellow card.

Burnage applied the pressure, resulting in a converted try and a 10-point cushion.

With the match drawing to a close a Burnage player threw a punch and was shown a red card. With a bonus point in sight Baldwin was successful with a long range kick ensuring Northwich did not return empty handed.

When the other results came through the missed opportunity became even more obvious.

On Saturday Northwich entertain Wilmslow, KO 2.15pm.

1 Mike Bradshaw 2 Fraser Dodd 3 Joe Maddocks 4 Chris Heywood 5 Patrick Fray 6 Chris Dale 7 Tom Clark 8 Phil Williams 9 Richard Dale 10 Nick Baldwin 11 Tom Husbands 12 Sam Naylor 13 Scott Davidson 14 Shaun Burma 15 Richard Dale 16 Tom Merrick 17 Kyle Clarke 18 Mark Thompson